Strike at VWSA inevitable over outsourcing

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa [NUMSA] has issued 72 hours notice for a protected strike action at VWSA Roodekop parts distribution.

The strike will commence on the 19 th April 2005 and it will only involve 67 workers. This comes after the union balloted and 90% of the workforce overwhelmingly voted in favour of the strike action. The strike will be triggered by the unilateral outsourcing of the packing department at the parts distribution division to a labour broker. The outsourcing of the packing area will affect 19 workers. Later, over 4 000 workers from the VWSA Uitehage plant will join in solidarity action.

The company has failed to resolve the three months dispute amicably and workers have no other option but to embark on action to stop outsourcing. There is still time for the company to halt outsorcing and resolve the issue with the union. If this will not be the case until Friday 15 April 2005 , production will be heavily affected.

It is unfortunate and regrettable that the company has chosen to issue notices of a lock-out to workers rather than resolving the primary dispute which will give rise to the strike. The company has also threatened to hire scab labour if the strike continues.The threat is outrageous. We want to warn the company that it is the right of workers to strike and any form of intimidation or threats will not work. The notices from the company are inofficious and disrepect the labour legislation. We do not want to imagine a situation where VWSA has the power to unilaterally threaten workers and throw out their rights to strike.

The company must exercise maturity not insensate threats. The threats for lock-out are just gratuitous and scurrilous. We want stubborn hawkishness to give way to listen to logic and reason. Since the dispute started the company took precipitous approach hence insufferable to the strike. The remarks by the company on lock-out are not just repulsive but borders on short-sighted perspective. It is our view that the intricacies of the dispute cannot be resolved through threats, manipulation and political chicanery but through mature leadership and the ability of the company to understand the impact of outsourcing. The packing department is the core business of the company, it should not be outsourced because workers have skills to do the job. Certainly outsourcing does not in all instances result in radical transformation and efficiency of operations.

We therefore think that company was ill-advised. As a result of insipid understand of the dispute the relationship will now become dysfunctional. We maintain that outsourcing is unwarranted and does not achieve variability of labour costs to production. It is our firm assertion that outsourcing is less appealing when placed under microscope, and there are no simple solutions between standards and efficiency. The truth is that outsourcing lead to lowering of acceptable labour standards and jobs. Outsourcing becomes more dangerous if it is coupled with labour brokers. Labour brokers undermine labour standards and vary down all benefits of workers. Labour brokers enjoy non-standard form of employment with greater use of contract, part time, temporary and subcontracted arrangements. Therefore, this is invariable dangerous in a unionized company like VWSA.

[For further information please contact Dumisa Ntuli -@ (011) 689 1700 or 0829737282]